VFR Chronicles: Vol. 2

VFR Chronicles, Volume 2: Collaborators of Technology

Writer, journalist, and VFR Programmer of Straight to the Music

Written by Miasha Lee.

Valley Free Radio has a flourishing partnership with NCTV (Northampton Community Television), the city of Northampton’s public access television network. Collaborating on public events such as Northampton Pride, have an underwriting group with them and had an internship program from 2015-2016 training high school students on audio productions and editing.
“Like us, NCTV has been a partner organization in terms of trying to foster independent media and independent media creators in giving them a platform. They’re more in the visual realm and we’re of the audio realm,” responded VFR member Stefan Ward Wheten.

In 2005, Former VFR member Joel Saxe began attending VFR meetings in a social hall at the First Churches of Northampton. He got his start in video production, filmmaking and teaching at Amherst Community Television and Springfield Community Access in the 1980’s when public access television was called community access television. “It was a really important side of community media production,” said Saxe. “Very much a
precursor in some ways to the low power FM movement that valley Free Radio is a part of.” He continued, “Now, people are making broadcast quality videos on iPhone. Back then if you wanted to make a video, you had to go to a community access station or a video production facility.”

With his background in video production, Saxe went to those meetings proposing a collaboration between Valley Free Radio and Northampton Community Television. To create programming for both shows through this partnership. “It would be synergetic to have the possibility that people could be doing public affair shows that would come out on Valley Free Radio on the airwaves, but there could also be a broadcast on Northampton Community Television on cable access,” Saxe told. “This was before
cable and streaming was what it is now. We didn’t have it at that point so the ability to distribute independent media was something you didn’t have the kind of networks that we have today that are through the Internet.”

Saxe had a series of conversations with NCTV on a possible collaboration. However, it didn’t pan out at that time for them to pair with VFR.

In 2006, Saxe became an VFR member and joined the Bread and Roses Radio. When Ed Charla the driving force of Bread and Roses passed away, Saxe took over the leadership capacity of the show until his departure from the station in 2018. In 2014, Saxe continued to do media work and editing projects at NCTV. While advocating a partnership with Valley Free Radio. Saxe, Wheten and other VFR members Bob Gardner and Rick Haggerty reached out to NCTV for a second time. They spoke to director Al
Williams and his board of directors on working together. NCTV said yes and that same year, the first studio camera was installed followed by two more in 2017.

In addition, NCTV advised the station on setting up the Dow studio and helped them do remote broadcasts. “In that time,” Wheten stated. “We’ve been able to lay the foundation of how- to multimedia content creation. We’ve been able to bring in cameras and given the opportunity to
broadcast video content. For programmers to record their shows on camera and make them available also to rebroadcast on NCTV on the actually television channel.”

Recently, NCTV changed their name to NOM (Northampton Open Media) which is a direct re-brand of the network. As Northampton Open Media, they’re more than just television. They are still continuing to foster media creation in terms of Internet and multimedia content which Wheten hopes there’ll be more opportunities in the future to do that as well.
The cameras are set up at the radio station and there are resources available for shows that want to use the editing facility and borrow equipment such as remote audio recorders, microphones or
cameras that are up.

VFR still has a standing underwriting agreement with NOM and do their best to share their resources wherever possible.

Stick around for Vol. 3 of Valley Free Radio Chronicles.

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